Pollution in Beijing increases by 30%

  • @cliffordcoonan

The level of pollutants in Beijing’s air increased by almost 30 per cent in the first three months of this year, Beijing’s top environmental protection official said today.

By the end of March, levels of nitrogen dioxide and PM10 were far higher than those recorded over the same period last year, said Chen Tian, head of the Beijing Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau. Mr Chen described Beijing’s air quality as “relatively poor”.

Nitrogen dioxide contributes to the formation of smog, and PM10 refers to airborne particles of 10 microns in diameter or smaller, such as those present in smoke and dust.

Data presented to a summit in Beijing earlier this week showed that air pollution contributed to the deaths of 1.2 million people in China in 2010.

“Physically, this is harmful to our health,” said Feng Yong, 29, who works for an American electronics firm in Beijing. “Although we can’t really feel it or see it now, I am worried that in five or 10 years I might get respiratory diseases or lung cancer. I feel very uncomfortable living in such polluted environment.”

Though Chinese authorities have taken some steps to address the issue of air pollution, such as vowing to sporadically halt production in certain factories, many Beijing residents do not feel the measures go far enough.

Li Shanshan, 33, a civil servant working in food safety, said: “I really don’t know when the pollution issue will be resolved. I can’t live in such an environment. I think the government is not doing enough to improve the environment.”